Hermione stretched the muscles in her neck after placing the last book in a box and closing it up. For some people, packing up a library would consist of simply grabbing an armful of books and placing as many as possible into one box, then moving on to another. But for someone like Hermione, that would never do; she made sure to keep the books organized as she sorted through Snape’s collection, packing it all away. Looking around the room now, she felt a bit sad to see it like this. Empty book shelves, were almost as bad as a missing Professor. Almost.
Standing up and stretching her aching legs, she left the room that was filled with empty shelves and nearly forty packed and organized boxes and headed for the laboratory through the door between the library and the bedroom. She had peeked inside last night after dinner with the Professors, but as she really took it in now she was amazed by how well planned out it was. Just from the tingle of magic she could feel at the entrance, she knew the whole room was reinforced as a precautionary measure with regard to the potions that were dangerous to brew. The room itself was very large, equaling the combined lengths of the library and bedroom. All along the walls there was counter space, broken only by the entrance to the room itself and a door leading to the supply room on the other side.
In the center of the room were two massive islands to her left and right, each with sufficient space for six cauldrons at a time. As Hermione pulled out a piece of parchment and quill to start her list she had a brief vision of Severus Snape flitting around the room, tending to twelve cauldrons with the ease of a master: chopping ingredients, measuring, writing notes, stirring cauldrons, storing potions and salves. The smell in the air would sicken some people, but it wasn’t so bad if you knew what you were smelling.
As she took stock of the room, she knew it would be a simple enough job to pack up its contents; it would be a waste to pack away his ingredients since he was currently dead. Her only job would really be to search it top to bottom for potion journals, notes, basically anything of a personal nature. After that she would be able to start restocking the potions supplies for the next Professor, for the classroom, and for the school. And of course, she would also be tending to her own personal project, which hopefully would make all of her hard work useless. Because if she succeeded, Severus would still be alive and all of her hard work would not have been done at all...but there. She didn’t want to get ahead of herself. She still had a lot of research and experimenting to do before she knew if that could even happen. With a shake of her head she got to work searching for journals and notes.
Hermione wiped steam off her forehead with her sleeve. She had three cauldrons going at once. She had already finished everything that needed to be packed. The ingredients for the classroom and the private lab were on order; the complete list of hospital wing potions was spread out before her and she was working her way through it. It will take me a month to complete this! she thought tiredly, not even noticing the grumbling of her stomach since she hadn’t eaten yet.
At intervals between working on the potions, when they were not in need of stirring or new ingredients being added, she was reading through one of the journals she’d found hidden behind a loose brick in the supply closet. It was filled with helpful observations and studies that Severus Snape had used to counter Dark potions and substances when he had worked undercover with the Death Eaters. The section she was currently reading was on everything he had ever studied, tested, and knew about Nagini’s poison. Hermione had been shocked but quite thrilled to find such information because she knew it would help her so much in making an antidote. From his notes it looked as if, on three separate occasions, Severus had secreted away blood and venom obtained from victims of Nagini’s fangs. He too had been trying to develop an antidote, but judging by the sparse list of experiments and the lack of opportunities, he had so far been unsuccessful. This made her research more important than ever; before she used the sample from the Professor’s wounds, she would need to have the antidote figured out. She wouldn’t have another opportunity to accomplish this – she would have one shot and that was it.
“Hermione, dear, it seems you are taking care of things quite swiftly. Is there any specific reason you’re working so quickly?” McGonagall asked her. Hermione was just exiting the Hospital Wing after dropping off everything from the A-F part of the stock list she’d been working on.
“No, Professor. I just enjoy the work and most of the potions and such are simple, so it’s not much work really,” Hermione replied, hoping her face wasn’t giving away the truth. “So,” she said, hoping to divert the Professor’s scrutiny, “have you had any luck with hiring a new Potions Professor yet?”
“No, I haven’t. I’ve interviewed several candidates, but they were rather too green for such heavy responsibilities. I do have several more to interview in the next few weeks, so I’m hoping I’ll find someone who will be able to live up to the standards of a Hogwarts Potions Professor – though I highly doubt I will ever find someone as perfect as Severus was,” McGonagall replied a bit sadly.
Hermione’s brow creased as a question came to mind. She was quiet as she thought of a way to phrase it without giving away her secret intentions and getting herself in trouble. “Um, Professor, I was wondering if you might know something about illegal use of Time-Turners. I’ve been reading a few books about it in my spare time, and from everything I’ve read it seems that anyone who violates the law by changing the past and bringing someone back to life who had died gets caught. But how are they found out? It almost seems as if the Ministry is able to detect it. Do you know anything about it?” she asked, carefully keeping her face smooth.
McGonagall stopped walking and faced Hermione, staring at her as if she would peer into her very thoughts if she could. Though she had never accomplished mastering Occlumency, she was quite good at reading body language. Though Hermione appeared a bit nervous, it was always a bit hard to tell since she always asked a lot of questions. After successfully making Hermione fidget a bit under her scrutiny, McGonagall replied, “Though I don’t know exactly by what means the Ministry of Magic detects such events, I have heard rumors through the years that it has something to do with records and the Unspeakables. I really can’t tell you more than that, though I will ask you to explain your interest in bringing people back from the dead by use of a Time-Turner. You’re not planning to do such a thing, are you?” she asked sharply, studying Hermione’s face more intently.
Hermione forced herself to answer with an even voice. “No, ma’am, I wouldn’t do anything like that. I was just fascinated by the accounts I’ve read so far…in my spare time.”
McGonagall started to walk again as she replied, “I’m glad to hear it. I would hate to have you risk getting in such trouble, no matter the reason. Well, I must be going. Try and slow down a bit; I should hate to see you overwork yourself. Goodnight, Miss Granger,” she said, nodding as she turned to go to her office.
Hermione smiled as she re-read the formula for the third time, calculating ever step and every factor of the complicated process. It all seemed perfect. She had researched every ingredient thoroughly, and she knew the ones listed would interact successfully. For four weeks she had worked endlessly to create the antidote in secret while also finishing her job at Hogwarts. Now, after the last of the potions for the Hospital Wing were made, after the classroom stock had been organized and sorted, after the last of Severus Snape’s possession’s had been handed over to the Headmistress – minus the few that Hermione had secreted away in her expanding white bag – she was ready to put her plan into action.
She had asked Professor McGonagall a few hours earlier if she could stay a few extra days to work on an idea that might help out with the new policy on prejudices. McGonagall had been thrilled with the idea of a Muggle-born’s perspective to the problem and had allowed Hermione the extended stay…and the extended use of the private lab. Hermione had not gone into details about her idea, saying only that it might involve the need for potions.
Shortly after getting permission to stay Hermione had successfully “borrowed” the Hogwarts Time-Turner. Years ago she had learned of its existence after researching Hogwarts, A History. The few mentions of the Time-Turner would have led a more casual reader to believe the Time-Turner was just one on loan from the Ministry – before they had been destroyed, of course, in her fifth year. But she had discovered that among the many things the Hogwarts Founders had done during the creation of the school was to create a special Time-Turner for the Headmaster’s use. From what she could gather, it was hardly ever used and for the most part was ignored and even forgotten through the years by later Headmasters. So it was quite easy for Hermione to extract it from a well hidden location in the school’s massive trophy room. It was a bit tarnished and dusty, but a quick wave of her wand told her it was in working order and quite powerful.
Normally Time-Turners were for meant for traveling short distances in time, mostly hours but sometimes a few days. But this one was specifically designed to take a person back as far as several years. Instead of turning the hourglass over a few times to go back a few hours, you had to write down on a small piece of parchment exactly how far back you wanted to go and place the parchment inside the hourglass, which had a small opening, then turn it once.
Hermione had her strategy and her exact time destination and the formula ready. All she needed to do now was finish the antidote and test it on the bloody venom in the phial she had collected from Snape. If it worked, she would be able to give him a second chance.
The fire under the cauldron went out with a quick flick of her wrist. A silver cauldron before her contained a potion that looked like dried blood, except it was definitely liquid because she could see it move as it slowly stopped boiling. With her dragonhide gloves Hermione carefully moved the cauldron off the burner and onto the counter. She took her gloves off and picked up a heat-proof eyedropper and sucked up a few drops of the potion with it. She had already done the same with the phial of venom and blood. With careful deliberation she squeezed two drops of the venom onto the bottom of a glass saucer and then released one drop of the potion on top of it. Her heart was beating frantically as she watched the reaction of the two substances. Dear Merlin, let this work, she thought as her eyes concentrated on the sight before her. Suddenly the two liquids blazed a violent red and then there was nothing left but what looked like a few drops of blood.
A few drops of healthy blood.
Her hope soared as she waved her wand over the blood and diagnosed it as if she was checking any regular blood sample for a problem. The glowing signal her wand produced announced that her wish had come true. Before her was a sample of blood that was clear of any problems. The antidote worked.
Hermione’s mind went into overload at that moment. As quickly as she could she bottled every drop of the potion, putting phials in every pocket she had that could conceivably hold them. She waved her wand and the counter space was cleared and clean, then she rushed out the door to the bedroom to retrieve the Time-Turner, a dark cloak, and a letter. She fastened the cloak around her shoulders and raised the hood around her face. As she rolled up the tiny piece of parchment that would take her back to April 4, nearly a month before the battle, she ignored the fear that was welling up inside of her.
She left Severus Snape’s rooms as fast as she could to head straight for the Headmistress’ office.
Hermione fidgeted as she waited, concealed behind a statue that gave her a view of the entrance to the office. Moments before she had sent an owl from the Owlery to request a meeting with Professor McGonagall at the Three Broomsticks, posing as an applicant for the Potions Professor job. She smiled in relief when McGonagall exited her office moments later and headed toward the castle doors. It’s now or never, she thought as she crept out of her hiding place and approached the gargoyles. She quietly said the password, “Love One And All”, and made her way up the stairs into the office.
As soon as she shut the office door she placed a silencing charm over herself and crept into the rather large closet on the far side of the room. She took the small rolled-up destination parchment out of her pocket and, opening the little hatch on the Time-Turner, placed the parchment within. Then she snapped it shut and held on to it tightly. For a moment it didn’t do anything, making the wait seem even longer, but finally it glowed; the parchment inside was on fire, green flames consuming every bit of it. When the fire died down and faded to nothing, the hourglass started to vibrate in her hands a bit as it began turning over, faster and faster, until her eyes could no longer keep up with it.
Suddenly the world around her dissolved and she flew through time until finally she felt her feet on the floor of the closet once again, though now there were no robes with tartan accent. Everything was black, and she could hear someone talking on the other side of the door.
“What was that? Who's in there” she heard Severus Snape say, his voice getting closer.
Though panic filled her very being, Hermione quickly cast a glamour spell to change her appearance.
These past months had been hectic; Snape had hardly been able to leave the school grounds. His reaction time was quite swift as he rose out of his chair and called out to whoever was in the closet. He knew Apparation was not possible inside the school grounds, especially now, but at times like these, who knew what people were capable of. With his wand out, he quickly opened the door to find a person – a girl, he assumed from the shape and size of her.
“Come out of there this instant and explain yourself!” he demanded, pointing his wand directly at her and giving her a look that would scare anyone into complying.
Hermione cautiously walked forward, her head lowered despite being in disguise. It had never occurred to her that she could die doing this, but it was a bit late at that moment to dwell on the possible outcomes of this situation.
Clearing a throat that was suddenly dry, she said, “Please, I’ve got…something for you…to help you, sir. Please, I mean no harm!”
Snape assessed what he could see of this girl. She was trembling, making her dirty blond hair move slightly. “Lower your hood. Who are you, girl?” he demanded.
A/N: Please no Howlers…and don’t hate me lol. I’ve started the next chapter, because I couldn’t stop writing. But I didn’t want the chapter to be over 4,000 words, so I cut it up at this point…so please bear with me because you will have more to read soon, as I am on quite a roll! *HUGS*